Juneteenth Celebration

JuneteenthBy Carla Charter

A Juneteenth celebration will be held at on Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10th at the Hempsted House, 11 Hempsted Street, New London, Connecticut.

Juneteenth is a celebration of the date when the Union Soldiers arrive in Galveston, Texas in 1865. “The slaves in Texas had not heard about the Emancipation Proclamation. It is considered the formal ending of slavery in the United States,” according to Aileen Novick, Project Manager of the Hempsted House.

The Hempsted House has housed 10 generations of Hempsteds.  Among those living there have included diarist Joshua Hempsted who was born in the Hempsted House in 1678 and lived there until he died in 1758.  . As well as a diarist Joshua was also a farmer, Justice of the Peace, a shipwright, as well as a coffin and gravestone maker.  An enslaved farmer Adam Jackson lived there in 1728 until at least 1758.

His grandson, Sherriff Joshua Hempsted also lived in this home. While the grandson lived there is record of an enslaved house slave Dinah who ran away from the property we know she was there from 1800-1803. “She was listed in the census in 1800. Slavery was not outlawed in Connecticut until 1848.” There are no historical records stating the last name of Dinah.

The Hempsted House is the oldest house in New London. It is in two sections with the oldest section being built in 1678 and an addition being built in 1728. In 1937 Anna Hempsted Branch passed away and the property was donated to the Connecticut Landmark Society.

Highlights of the Juneteenth event on Saturday will include  Joseph McGill, a Historic Preservationist who has create the Slave Dwelling Project, travelling around the country sleeping in a variety of former slave dwellings, to deliver the message that those living there were not a footnote to history, according to his website, slavedwellingproject.org. remind people that those who dwelled in these homes As part of this project, he will be spending the night at the Bush-Holly site in Greenwich and the Homestead House. There will be a campfire at 7 p.m. where he will speak about his experiences and the importance of preserving the stories of people. A group of community members have been invited to spend the night at the home with McGill.

Also Saturday, Michael Kofke, the writer of Marshall will speak about bringing the story of this part of Thurgood Marshall life to the big screen. The movie depicts a Connecticut trial that Marshall was involved in as a lawyer for the NAACP.

Adwoa Bandele-Asante of New London will be portraying Harriet Tubman and Tammy Denease of Historical First who will portray Joan Jackson the mother of Adam Jackson on Saturday as well.

Other Saturday events will also include The Lions Den Dance Company, Writers Block Inc., Shades of Joy, DJ Frank Lo. There will be a art project community mural. There will be opportunities to register to vote through the League of Women Voters and the NAACP of Connecticut will be at the event as well.

On Sunday there will be a Church Service by In His Presence Ministries. In the afternoon there will be a gospel Choir Concert with many local churches performing.

More information on the Juneteenth Celebration can be found at www.ctlandmarks.org